The Villa Appetiser: Bristol City v Aston Villa 2016
With Ritchie De Laet and Mile Jedinak set to make Villa debuts, the team is starting to look more and more like one that will be at the right end of the table come the end of the season.
Lee Johnson’s Bristol City are similar to Huddersfield in that they have endured recent relegation battles, but both have made a good start to the campaign.
With an international break around the corner, Villa need to lay down a marker with a first away win of the season.
Lee Johnson on Villa
“We’re not quite ready for it at Championship level yet, but we’re not far off. That’s the bit I’m excited for, but I have to control it to make sure we still pick up results until we’re ready to be uber expansive.
“Saturday is a massive game for us because we want to stick in there and compete as high as we can up the division.”
“It could be a mindset thing, but they’ve got good players at this level.
“It’s another brilliant game. We’ve already fared ok against the other two Premier League teams that came down. They were our test markers for this one – now let’s go and win it.”
Roberto Di Matteo on Bristol City
“It’s a team that likes to play football and a team that has a good start.
“If you look at the last few years, really, it’s been on the up.
“They got promotion two years ago and then stayed in the league. They are looking to improve.
“Looking at the last few games, they have been a very tough opponent.
“I think we have to look at Bristol City as a competitor for the promotion places.
“It’s going to be a big test again to see how far we have come.”
Bristol City have already lost to two of last season’s relegated Premier League clubs
29 December 1979 Bristol City 1 Villa 3
It was Villa who secured the points when the teams last met in the old Division 1
Bristol City – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 2, L 2
Villa– Last five matches away: D 1, L 4
One to Watch
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Despite this, ahead of another potentially tricky away game, one can’t help but wonder how the new signings will fit in. Will Jedinak replace Gardner, or Westwood? Will De Laet’s introduction push Bacuna, who has played quite well this season, into midfield?
Villa have conceded just two goals in the Championship so far, so there’s a decent foundation, and it will be a challenge for Di Matteo to get the balance of the side right on Saturday.
With THAT away record still lingering over Villa, injuries to Gestede and Tshibola will also be an issue, particularly Gestede – Kozak showed he does not pose the same level of attacking threat last weekend.
Bristol City have nothing to lose ahead of this weekend’s game, and it’s worth mentioning that Lee Johnson’s side have picked up more victories than Villa as it stands…
“It could be a mindset thing, but they’ve got good players at this level” – johnson on villa
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
With Gestede out, the emphasis will be on Ayew and McCormack to lead the line at Ashton Gate.
Considering that McCormack has created more goalscoring chances (18) than any other player in the league this season, we’ve got a good chance of scoring away in Bristol.
Despite a solid start to the season, the Robins have conceded exactly one goal in each of their last five league games. While it will mean Villa finally need to be more clinical with their chances, it’s likely Bristol City will concede.
Bristol City have already lost to two of last season’s relegated Premier League clubs, so hopefully Villa can complete an unhappy trilogy for the Robins.
Sure, Bristol have won two games this season, but these were against two PROMOTED teams (Wigan and Burton). There’s a pattern developing here that we should be looking to continue!
Despite our injuries and away record, it’s worth taking Villa seriously. As well as being on a three-match unbeaten run, we’re the only team to take points off surprise leaders Huddersfield so far…
Let’s head into the international break on a high note.